by Kiera Cass
Published on April 23, 2013 by HarperTeen
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
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The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?
America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America's chance to choose is about to slip away.
You know that strong urge to dive into a sequel because you’re sure it’s going to be better than book one? No? Me either, at least when it came to The Elite. To say that The Selection (book 1) pushed me away from the series is an understatement but I had hope that the sequel would improve off of it and earn a better rating in my book. Instead, I was met with a 323-page love triangle from the depths of lost and (purposely) forgotten stories. While I did finish The Elite (hence the 2-star rating), I’m more than alright with waiting for the final book in the Selection series, The One.
Now you’re probably thinking, “If you didn’t like the first book, why read the second?” Well, I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to leave a series unfinished if I liked even a part of it. The Elite pretty much destroyed what little hope I had for this series but I will read the last book since I’ve already gotten this far. This novel was a love triangle expanded to cover a 300 pages so it would count as a novel. The two things that made me like the first book disappeared. First, I wasn’t a fan of this cover nearly as much as the cover for The Selection and second, I read book one for the protagonist–America Singer. Everything I liked about her had already started to fade at the end of The Selection but The Eliteerased the rest. I spent 3 hours reading about how confused she was. “I like Maxon. I like Aspen. I like Maxon. I like Aspen.” There’s a way to write love triangles. Janet Evanovich does it with her Stephanie Plum series between Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger. That love triangle is still going and the series has 19 books in it yet somehow readers keep coming back for more. Cass went the opposite direction, providing the perfect outlet for young girls who have a crush that doesn’t notice them so they can throw themselves in America’s shoes where she has 2 guys fighting for her. Every girl’s dream, right?
The Selection failed in the dystopian category but at least it still had a semi-decent story. There was something to the world Cass created, though not much and it was all kept hush-hush. In this novel, some of the history of Illea came out but I felt like I was reading a second-grade history book. All the focus was on the love story, not that there was much with that either. Not only that, but the writing seemed different between The Elite and The Selection. There was no set-up for the story, no worldbuilding or expanding on some of the themes presented in The Selection. If I hadn’t read The Selection more recently, I wouldn’t have known what was going on. And did Cass have a bull chasing her through writing this story? Because what a rush…literally, the story went by in a blur. Fast-pacing is good when the story calls for it but this one didn’t.
I avoided reading the reviews for this book, like I did with book one, so I could first make my own judgments. Yeah, won’t be making that mistake again. If you even remotely disliked The Selection, don’t bother with The Elite. Somehow the series actually got worse (I didn’t even know that was possible). I will read The One when it comes out — eventually — but only to be able to say that I survived the Selection with my brain still intact.
EDIT: I was perusing the web and stumbled across the review of The Elite over at YAL Book Briefs and they shared a video that I wanted to pass along. If you haven’t read The Selection yet, you can watch this summarized version (with Barbies!). Sadly, it is a little too close to what actually happened.